NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-BAM-FX–Enhanced Broccoli Seed Germination, Plant Growth and Zinc Biofortification on Orbit (NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX) - 09.27.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Plants grow differently in space, and some plants experience stunted growth or problems with germination, which may make it difficult for future space travelers to grow their own food. The NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-BAM-FX–Enhanced Broccoli Seed Germination, Plant Growth and Zinc Biofortification on Orbit (NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX) investigation studies growth of broccoli plants fortified with zinc, which improves the plants’ own growth and can benefit crew members’ immune systems. The investigation studies seed germination and growth in microgravity, determining whether a bioavailable mineral nutrient formula helps their growth.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Valley Christian High School, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Valley Christian High School , Valley Christian High School, San Jose, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
John L. Freeman, Ph.D., Intrinsyx Technologies Corporation, Moffett Field, CA, United States
Chetan Angadi, Ph.D., Intrinsyx Technologies Corporation, Moffett Field, CA, United States
David Bubenheim, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States
Dan Saldana, Valley Christian High School, San Jose, CA, United States

Developer(s)
NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States
Intrinsyx Technologies Corporation, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research Office - Education (NASA Research-EDU)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2016 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned
49/50,51/52

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • In microgravity plants have decreased germination rates and stunted growth of roots and shoots.
  • Investigating the possibility to produce better growing large quantities of high-quality zinc bio-fortified vegetables on a space station, ensuring astronauts on long missions a continuous supply of zinc enriched fresh vegetables.
  • Zinc allows plants to cope or deal with a number of environmental stresses including the reactive oxygen species generated by the growth of plants in microgravity. Zinc also is important for human immune system function.
  • Broccoli seeds/seedlings germinated with zinc and copper in media should germinate and grow better roots and shoots in microgravity.
  • NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-BAM-FX–Enhanced Broccoli Seed Germination, Plant Growth and Zinc Biofortification on Orbit (NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX) seeks to answer, Do plant roots and shoots grow better in the presence of BAM-FX which contains both zinc and copper?
  • NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX seeks to answer, Will the broccoli accumulate elevated levels of zinc in microgravity and thus represent bio-fortified zinc enriched anti-carcinogenic crops potentially for use in improving crew member health on long duration missions?

Description

The principle aim of NanoRacks-Valley Christian High School-BAM-FX–Enhanced Broccoli Seed Germination, Plant Growth and Zinc Biofortification on Orbit (NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX) on the International Space Station (ISS) is to investigate the possibility of better growing plants and to produce large quantities of high-quality zinc bio-fortified broccoli on a space station, thereby ensuring astronauts on long missions a continuous supply of zinc enriched rich fresh anti-carcinogenic vegetables. Broccoli is known as an important vegetable with healthful anti-carcinogenic properties that may help reduce the incidents of a variety of cancers. For crew members, eating this fresh vegetable may help in combatting radiation induced cancers. Additionally, when bio-fortified with healthful levels of zinc, these space grown broccoli may not only grow better through coping with the plant stresses of microgravity, but can potentially help further boost astronaut immune system defenses.
 
Under normal gravitational conditions on Earth, roots and leaves grow normally. The plant roots grow towards the Earth’s center, in the direction of gravity, and the sprouts in contrast, grow towards the light source (sunlight). Previous experiments conducted in microgravity have shown decreased germination rates and stunted growth of the germinated seedlings’ roots and shoots. Zinc is an important micronutrient for plants to cope or deal with a number of environmental stresses including the reactive oxygen species generated by the growth of plants in microgravity. NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX investigates if broccoli seeds/seedlings can germinate and grow better roots and shoots in microgravity when their agarose growth media is supplemented with additional zinc, copper, sulfate, and ammonia found in the bioavailable mineral nutrient formula X (BAM-FX). Specifically, 1) do plant roots and shoots grow better in the presence of BAM-FX and 2) will the broccoli accumulate elevated levels of zinc in microgravity and thus represent bio-fortified zinc enriched anti-carcinogenic crops potentially for use in improving astronaut health on long duration missions?
 
The seed germination and seedling growth experiments performed on the ISS is directly compared with the results of a reference experiment concomitantly running on Earth at 1 g. For the experiment seeds are used, that have been put in an Murashige and Skoog (MS) agarose growth test medium that has been flown to ISS and used in space for plant growth many times prior. To ensure the success of the experiment, an appropriate experimental design was developed for the ISS. That is a method to achieve good germination and growth of both BAM-FX treated and control plants at microgravity onboard ISS and on the ground as controls. A good germination rate, proper establishment of a good root system and increased growth of both root and shoots is a foreseen effect of using BAM-FX during the 25-30 day mission, using specific experiment hardware in the ISS environment.
 
One week before launch, all the necessary materials are hand carried by the Principal Investigators to Florida and stored inside the laboratory for preparation. The preparation of the medium and sterilization of the seeds is started according to the experiment schedule/scenario. Finally, the seeds are put into the hardware and a final functional test is performed before the handover of the completed experiment set-up to the loading crew.
 
During the mission no video or specific data link is required. The predefined experiment timeline (illumination cycles and picture capture intervals) is programmed in advanced and runs autonomously after the experiment hardware is powered and activated. All necessary data is saved on experiment hardware level.
 
After the return of the experiment hardware, the hardware and all the collected data (e.g. pictures, environment parameter data etc.) have to be transported and delivered to the school labs in San Jose, CA. Here, all further investigations and analyzes take place and the reference run is performed according the provided mission data.
 
NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX and NanoRacks-ESS-V3PO share the two habitats inside a 1.5U NanoRacks Module. The hardware was already flown on SpX-3 named NanoRacks-AFEX but slightly modified (introduction of second habitat) for the NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX and NanoRacks-ESS-V3PO joint education experiment.

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Applications

Space Applications
Space travelers on long-duration missions to distant destinations will have to grow their own food. But previous research has shown the microgravity environment of space hampers plant growth, including by interfering with germination, causing abnormal root development, and stunting growth. NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX studies whether a specific type of nutrient fertilizer can improve growth of a broccoli plant, which could be harvested for food. Results from this investigation benefit space farming research, which will be vital for future long-duration space missions.

Earth Applications
Three 12th grade students from Valley Christian High School in San Jose, CA, designed the investigation to study how crops can be cultivated in the microgravity environment of space. The students gain real-world experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts, connecting them to the space program while producing new research that benefits future space missions.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
NanoRacks Module-71 is autonomous once it is installed in the NanoRacks Platform and activated. The Module is stored at 4°C and darkness for ascent. The duration of the experiment is up to 40 days, with return on the same vehicle as ascent. The Module is returned at 4°C and darkness.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
NanoRacks
BAM-FX
Intrinsyx

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Imagery

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NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX Team at NASA-Ames conducting seedling growth experiments. Image courtesy of Valley Christian High School.

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The NanoRacks Module-71 flight hardware for the NanoRacks-VCHS-BAM-FX and NanoRacks-ESS-V3PO investigations. Image courtesy of NanoRacks LLC.

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